Save the Children Action Network Questionnaire
Q: What role should state government play in improving the lives of children in New Hampshire aged 5 and younger?
A: Supporting family and medical leave programs, setting a state minimum wage; authorizing greater access to early childhood education programs; assuring assessment of children in 0-3 years—health and dietary wellness, physical and cognitive abilities; implementing recommendations of Spark-NH, the Governor’s task force on early child care. Q: Tell us about your experience with early learning programs. Is there something from your personal life or public record that demonstrates your belief in and commitment to early childhood education?
A: I served on Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Board for 6 yrs. and led establishing regional CASA in Keene to support abused and neglected children in and recruit CASA's for Cheshire and Sullivan Cos. Helped Keene State College Education programs establish after-school programs in Winchester and Marlborough Schools. I was awarded honorary membership in Kappa Delta Pi education honors society. I am an advocate for Impact Monadnock and a Reading Day volunteer. My parents were immigrants and I needed language development services and received those after entering kindergarten.
Q: During your campaign for senator, will you express support for state funding of early childhood education? If so, please list three points that will be part of your early childhood education platform or messaging.
A: Yes. Family education programs on improving children's cognitive and social growth are needed to reduce differentials in child development; extending Medicaid Expansion which is helping screen children for learning and physical disabilities, and language and speech impairments; articulating pre-school and kindergarten programs so children are prepared equitably for school. Supporting B-Corps (Benefit Corporations that are socially responsible) to set an example for family friendly workplaces. These are low hanging fruit that can be easily implemented.
Q: As State Senator, will you support expanding quality pre-K programs in New Hampshire? If yes, will you support funding and relevant amendments to the state budget during the 2017 legislative session that will enable the expansion of quality pre-K programs?
A: I probably would. My career as a higher education chief financial officer has taught me to be cautious about over-committing resources when revenues are insufficient. We have a revenue problem in NH state government and that also needs to be addressed so we can provide incentives for pre-K programs. Q: During the 2016 legislative session Save the Children Action Network worked with a bipartisan group of legislators to introduce Senate Bill 503, relative to funding pre-kindergarten education using Pay for Success financing. This innovative finance method enables private groups to provide the upfront investment to pre-kindergarten programs. The investors are only paid back from the savings to the state if the programs they fund achieve predetermined standards. If elected, will you vote in support of programs like Pay for Success to fund expanding quality pre-K in New Hampshire? Why or why not?
A: I would probably support such a program because it opens a door to the State’s support of early childhood education. However, I am skeptical of its effectiveness. The bill recommends a Commission that would have to develop a compelling set of guidelines for private investment, such as the value to the state of better educated 3rd graders. The bureaucracy of having each school’s contract authorized by the Executive Council is probably necessary, but adds risk to the investors. Availability of funds is difficult to determine when funds are not set aside in advance and savings could be absorbed into other underfunded programs, such as special education reimbursement rate increases, new charter school payments and full-day kindergarten. I am concerned about private investment turning into a reduction in business profits taxes.
Q: In your own words, please tell us why high quality publicly funded early childhood education is critical to the future of New Hampshire and the nation as a whole. A: Every child needs an equal opportunity to succeed. If we don't meet this civic responsibility in early childhood, children face learning disadvantages throughout their school years. The future social costs of low-educated adults is a risk our state governments and our economy can't continue absorbing. Our nation will fall further behind other countries in competitiveness and faces greater gaps in income inequality.